The Great Textbook War

Trey Kay Productions

This carefully constructed radio documentary recounts events that occurred almost 35 years ago yet seem familiar today. Indeed, as presented by producer Trey Kay, the battles over school textbook content and decisions to adopt or not adopt those books serve to foreshadow the culture wars that still ebb and flow across America. In part, Kay’s account is personal. He was a 12-year-old seventh grader when school board member Alice Moore protested the adoption of certain books under consideration in the Kanawha County, West Virginia, school system. A debate over “multiculturalism” expanded into other areas. Varying religious groups took different sides. The Ku Klux Klan entered the arguments. Among those taking part in the long battle were founders of the Heritage Foundation. Although violence erupted at various moments, perhaps the most lingering effect of those events was to show a community divided over issues and topics held passionately by a range of individuals and groups. In this radio forum that reunited participants in the textbook battle, most continue to defend the positions taken in 1974 and many look with some pride at the rise of conservative movements and positions defended with equal passion today. For presenting a balanced historical account that resonates with contemporary cultural politics, a Peabody Award goes to The Great Textbook War.


Executive Producer: Trey Kay. Producers: Trey Kay, Deborah George. Associate Producers: Anna Sale, Rosa Mayer, Mia Lobell, Jonathan Mitchell. Writers: Trey Kay, Deborah George. Reporter: Trey Kay. Editor: Deborah George. Audio Editors: Trey Kay, Mia Lobell and Jonathan Mitchell. Music: Michael Lipton, Tristram Lozaw.